There are movements and organizations striving to end our indifference. And this is good.
But what I propose is that we embrace R.E.C. and communicate that acronym’s message; then skillfully teach and share how to R.E.C.
What is R.E.C.? This acronym stands for Respect, Empathy, and Compassion.
I really feel we have lost respect for each other. We rarely recognize or appreciate one another. Respectful language and behavior is not highly regarded in our world. Some people earn the respect of individuals by assisting others or playing important social roles. In many cultures, individuals are considered to be worthy of respect until they prove otherwise. Courtesies that show respect include simple words and phrases like "thank you" in the West, simple physical gestures like a slight bow in the East, a smile or direct eye contact. I remember as a child it was common courtesy to stand when a senior citizen entered a room; when it was polite to extend your hand in a firm handshake. I remember when we felt proud as a student body to stand in class or at a game to recite the pledge of allegiance and to bow our heads in silence. I remember when it was discourteous to talk back to a teacher; how our parents rebuked us for our rude behavior.
How can we teach respect? We teach our children to respect themselves, their skills and talents, their voice, their performance and style. Then we can instruct them to respect others’ talents, style, space, instruments, voice and performance—without envy but with amity. And we can teach our children to respect the property of all—their instruments, chair, stereo, toys, and books. Respect is earned; we earn it by learning how to be respectful. Here are some helpful reminders to teach respect:
- I am respectful of other people because that is the way I want to be treated.
- I am considerate of other people. I treat people with civility, courtesy, and dignity.
- I accept personal differences. I work to solve problems without violence.
- I never intentionally ridicule, embarrass, or hurt others.
The letter E in R.E.C. stands for empathy. Empathy means understanding another's feelings; the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of the other, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another ~ without judgment. It is just like thinking what if that were me? Putting yourself in the shoes of another can give us a new perspective of what that person may be seeing, hearing, or feeling.
And the last letter in R.E.C. is C which stands for compassion. We need to teach our children self-compassion for if we do not love ourselves, we cannot love or show compassion to others. When I think of compassion, I think of compassion in action: “When I was hungry, you gave me food; when I was thirsty, you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” Our children need to be taught through community service acts of compassion.
As the Dalai Lama said: “Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
I challenge you to teach R.E.C. in the New Year. Help humanity survive and thrive!